Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Healthy and Easy Gluten Free, Sugar Free Vegan Granola

When I began working on this granola, I wanted a recipe to end all granola recipes. It needed to be gluten free, vegan, contain healthy fats and protein, and be low in sugar. Better yet, I wanted a no-sugar granola recipe.

Beyond its health benefits, I wanted a granola that baked into large, crumbly chunks, the kind you pick out of the pan before it's completely cool and end up eating two servings before it's put away.

I may or may not have done that yesterday. I completely spoiled my dinner munching on this stuff.

I also wanted to create an inexpensive granola. Commercial gluten-free granolas such as Purely Elizabeth at $6.99 and Bob's Red Mill $5.64 offer only seven 1/2-cup servings, which works out to about $1 per 200-calorie serving. In my house, one bag would barely cover a single breakfast!

My version rings in at $0.43 per half-cup serving. Even better, it packs more nutrition into that half cup serving, with more healthy fats and fiber and no refined sugar, which is the second ingredient in the other varieties.

So, how does it taste? It is exactly what I was looking for. This granola offers a perfect balance of sweet and salty with crispy edges, toasty coconut, and crunchy walnuts. I asked my kids for their honest feedback and they said it was, the best granola I have ever made.

I love how they always speak in superlatives. But, I'll take it.

Serve it with homemade almond milk and a generous heap of whatever fruit is in season for a delicious and healthy breakfast.

Salted Date Caramel Gluten-Free Granola

Yields 16 1/2-cup servings

1.5 cups pitted medjool dates
2/3 cup hot water
4 cups gluten-free oats
2.5 cups unsweetened coconut flakes
1 cup roughly chopped walnuts
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided

  1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
  2. Combine the dates and hot water in a blender or the cup for an immersion blender. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, coconut, and walnuts.
  4. Add the coconut oil, vanilla, and 1/2 teaspoon of the sea salt to the date mixture and puree until smooth, adding additional water if necessary. Less liquid will help the granola become crisp during baking.
  5. Pour the date mixture over the oats and stir to coat.
  6. Spread the mixture over a sheet pan. Bake for 25 minutes without stirring.
  7. Using a metal spatula, flip the granola over in sections, as if flipping pancakes, trying to keep the individual clusters intact. Bake for another 15 minutes. Flip again and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Keep a close eye on the granola at the end of the baking time. You want to dry it out thoroughly but not burn anything.
  8. Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt. Allow the granola to cool completely before snacking or storing.
Nutrition facts per 1/2-cup serving
Calories 266, Fat 17 grams, Carbohydrate 27 grams, Fiber 5 grams, Protein 5 grams

Friday, May 5, 2017

Chipotle Orange Glazed Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Grilling season begins early in Southern California, so when I scored Douglas Rodriguez's Latin Flavors on the Grill at my kids' school rummage sale last month, I begin trying recipes immediately.

I adapted this recipe from Rodriguez's Sticky Orange and Chipotle Glazed Sweet Potatoes, omitting the butter to make it plant-based and healthier. I also added a touch of maple syrup and swapped the orange juice concentrate for freshly squeezed orange juice because fresh citrus is literally dropping from the trees all around our neighborhood. I love Santa Barbara!

The chipotle orange glaze is made on the stove top and is pretty much hands off. I let it simmer while the grill heats up. Make sure to read the ingredients label on the chipotles in adobo to ensure they are gluten-free; some brands contain wheat. If you don't have canned chipotle in adobo sauce, you can also use ground chipotle.

Blanching and shocking the sweet potatoes quickly is essential. The moist heat makes them tender but not falling apart when you finish them on the grill, which gives a nice blast of smoky flavor and caramelizes the sugars in the sweet potato. I prefer to do the first step ahead of time so that come dinner time, I merely slide the par-cooked sweet potatoes onto the grill and they're ready in five minutes.

Chipotle Orange Glazed Grilled Sweet Potatoes

Serves 4

2 pounds sweet potatoes, unpeeled
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 to 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon coconut oil

Slice the sweet potatoes into ½-inch thick slices and place them in a large pot of salted water. Bring the water to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes. Transfer the sweet potatoes to an ice-water bath. Drain and set aside.

In a small sauce pan, combine the orange juice, chipotle, maple syrup, and sea salt. Simmer over low heat until reduced to 2 to 3 tablespoons.

Preheat a grill to medium. Brush the sweet potatoes with the coconut oil and grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until grill marks appear.

Transfer the sweet potatoes to a serving platter and brush with the chipotle glaze.

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